40 | Michael

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EASTON

SUNDAY

10:37 AM

37 HOURS, 23 MINUTES UNTIL DEADLINE

It didn't make any sense, and yet Erin Green was standing right in front of him.

The unconscious and possibly dead bodies of his sister and friends were surrounding his feet, and in front of his face stood a woman that he had assumed was dead. A woman who, by all reports and documents and records, was dead.

But Erin Green was very much alive.

Ironically, she was the one out of the four older siblings who Michael hadn't mourned. He was rather alright with her death—after all, he had tried to make it happen months earlier than it actually did.

Seeing Erin alive did give Michael a bit of comfort about the state of his sister and friends—Erin wouldn't have killed her own brother for no reason, which most likely meant no one else was dead.

"Stop standing there with your mouth wide open, you look like a pufferfish." Erin ordered. Michael shut his mouth so quickly that his teeth clanged together and he massaged his jaw carefully before deciding to speak.

"Are you gonna explain why you're alive, or am I supposed to guess?'

Erin rolled her eyes.

"Always the smart aleck. I should have done to you what I did to the rest of them. Or rather, what Nathan and I did to the rest of them."

A man stepped out from the shadows behind Erin, his face illuminated by the light bulb swinging above their heads. Michael squinted carefully: the man looked strangely familiar, but he couldn't quite place where he knew him from.

"Now you have a choice to make, Michael." Erin grinned, "Your friends are going to wake up soon, and they're going to wonder what happened while they were unconscious. Now you can try to convince them that I'm alive...which, I mean, good luck...or you can tell them that you saw Nathan, and no one else, and that the only way for these four to survive is if you die."

"You're the reason that Jordan was ordered to kill me?" Michael scoffed, "Come on, Erin. You have to get over me trying to stab you; it was a one-time thing."

Erin raised her eyebrows.

"There is so much going on here that you don't know about, Hadden. Your brother had secrets that you don't know about, and you never will. I—" she turned slightly to glance at the man, Nathan, behind her, "—I had to make sacrifices to survive that car crash. And now you're going to make a sacrifice to ensure that four more people don't have to die."

"Why does anyone have to die?" Michael exclaimed in a mixture of confusion and annoyance, "I don't see why we can't all just go home and live our lives like normal human beings."

"Well, I'm technically dead, so there's one reason." Erin replied stiffly, "And maybe another reason could be that...oh, yeah. Nathan has all of our lives in his hands."

"Yeah so who the hell are you?" Michael turned his attention from Erin to Nathan, "I don't even know who you are, so why are you torturing us?"

"Because you don't even know who I am." Nathan shrugged, "And that's the entire problem."

Michael wasn't going to comment on how that made absolutely zero sense, since this was a man who apparently had the ability to kill anyone he wanted, so he stood in silence until Erin reached above her head to tug on the string hanging from the single lightbulb.

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